Bound by Flame Reviews

  • SilvxbenosaurusSilvxbenosaurus577,401
    14 May 2014 18 May 2014
    27 0 9
    RPGs are an interesting genre. Like any other, you have big budget titles (Skyrim, Dragon age), and your lower budget titles (Risen, Divinity). The AAA titles are of course, much more polished in terms of visuals and performance, and the smaller ones usually have poor visuals or an overall lack of polish. Now, you would think that the AAA are the best choice, and you would be right in many ways, but I feel that RPGs made from small teams or on a low budget usually beat AAA titles in a few ways. This is where Bound by Flame comes in.

    There will be some slight spoilers by the way, but nothing too bad.

    Bound by Flame is an action RPG developed by Spiders, a French developer. You play as Vulcan, a male or female mercenary in a group known as the Freeborn Blades. Early on in the game, Vulcan is imbued with a fire demon, and is forced to live with it inside his head. It's not all bad though, as the demon grants him powerful fire abilities. Vulcan decides to use these new powers to combat the 7 Ice lords that are destroying the world.

    The story involves Vulcan and the mercenary group travelling across the land to reach the Elven city of Caraldthas to kill Lord Blackfrost, one of the Ice lords. Yes, you only end up actually getting to fight ONE of the lords, which is rather disappointing. You end up meeting multiple companions that help you on your quest. Each of the companions has their own story and some personal tasks for you as well. Unfortunately, I would say that the story is one of the weakest aspects of the game, as for the first half of the game, it sets up this very interesting tale, and than rushes past it in the third act, leaving it all feeling like a wasted opportunity. The game does have multiple ending though, which is nice.

    There are also many side quests to take on, which gives you extra experience points. These quests usually involve finding an item, killing certain enemies, or talking to certain people. They aren't anything special, but I did enjoy doing them, as they felt rewarding.

    Throughout the game you can do side quests for your companions, which apparently builds up your relationships with them, but it amasses to nothing more than an awkward scene where your main character comes on to them before the final fight.

    Bound by Flame is a third person action-rpg, the X,Y and B buttons are used to perform attacks. You have two stances at your disposal, Warrior stance allows you to wield large weapons, like two handed swords,war hammers, and large axes. The warrior can kick an enemy to stun them with the B button, and parry with RT. Warrior attacks are generally slow, but do more damage than daggers, which is what the ranger stance uses. In ranger stance, B allows you to dodge backwards. and counter if times right, replacing the warriors parry. You also have your pyromancies, which are magic spells that you can map to buttons. each of the styles has its own skill tree, which grants new abilities and passive bonuses. You also have the Feats system, which are separate passive bonuses like crafting boosts and loot pickup increases. Overall, I think that the progression system is very fun, and there is a good amount of options to choose from, leading to some varied experiences.

    But, skills wouldn't be important if there wasn't any combat! So, how is the combat? Well, it's a mixed bag I have to say. The overall feel of the game is kind of sloppy, with your character taking a long time to execute actions in combat, and some rather stiff controls. You can lock on to enemies , which does help, because the game usually throws multiple enemies at a time at you, which tends to get REALLY messy, as you get attacked from all sides, taking massive amounts of damage, and getting stun-locked. You can have one companion with you at all times, but they usually don't do much, I recommend taking in a ranged companion, so they don't rush in and die instantly. I should also mention, this game can be really hard, as it tends to throw enemies that can kill you in a couple of hits in large mobs. Even on hawk mode (normal mode), I had a lot of trouble getting through. All of this said though, the combat can still be fun, and killing a tough enemy is very satisfying.

    Enemies drop materials, which you can then use with the games fantastic crafting system. Basically, you can add pieces to your armour to strengthen it. For example, you can craft some shoulder plates onto your chest piece to add more defence. It's a simple system, but it feels very rewarding as you actually get to change the way your armour looks.

    The graphics in the Xbox version of Bound by Flame are very dated, to put it simply. Textures are low res, character models look poor, and the animation quality is pretty dreadful. Lip syncing is usually off, and walking around and dialogue moments just don't look natural at all. There is one good thing about the visuals though, and that is that the lighting in the game is very good, and can create some generally good looking environments, although the shadows are very jagged and tend to move around the characters faces awkwardly.

    Music/Voice Acting
    The music in Bound by Flame is excellent. It's good at being intense in fight sequences, and calming in camp areas. Some songs aren't too memorable, but a lot of them are quite beautiful I think. I urge you to give a listen to this song, which plays in a village, and during romance scenes.

    The voice acting on the other hand, is pretty average. Some of it is good, some ok, and some of it is downright bad. The only voice actor I recognized was Gideon Emery (Balthier from Final Fantasy XII, Fenris from Dragon Age 2). It's not always the fault of the actors though, as some of the lines in this game are really dumb, and occasionally feel out of place.

    Now for the most important thing!!toast

    The achievements in Bound by Flame aren't the most difficult I've encountered, but I wouldn't consider them to be easy. You have to complete the game on the hardest difficulty, which I would consider doing on a second play through, as you have to do multiple anyway. You need to max out all skill trees, which you can only max out 1 on a single play through, as well seduce 4 of your companions, 2 for each gender.

    To go back to what I was saying at the beginning, Bound by Flame is not very polished, it has poor visuals and sloppy gameplay. It's simply not as technically advanced as AAA games. But it, and many other budget RPGs have something that I feel AAA titles seem to lack. Bound by Flame really feels like it was made by RPG fans, it has heart, and it's got a lot of charm that I have trouble finding in AAA RPGs. It's certainly not perfect, but I think it's worth a go if you are a fan of the genre. It's only $40, so at least they released it at a much cheaper price.

    This my first review for this site, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    Showing all 9 comments.
    Duffman GBVery good review. Very well constructed and agree with most points raised.
    I spent many hours playing the game in the end though I had to admit defeat (lvl 22 warrior with fire and ice damage at time of leaving) and abandon, the combat was that bad. I love slightly ropey action WRPGs but this was a step to far in the wrong direction. The 3 x cheveo's at 110 each were rather a strange idea. I assume there must be something in the fact they are so specific ?

    TWII is still the poster boy for lower budget wrpg's an excellent game with loads of content, I strongly advise anyone to check it out, even if you hated the original. I love both games, warts and all.
    Posted by Duffman GB on 16 May 14 at 05:59
    Marc PilkingtonI agree with Duffman. Very fair and well constructed review. Gamespot and Polygon completely bashed this and expected it to be something that it was never meant to be in the first place. This review along with another I saw treats the game how it was meant to be treated - a low budget title.

    The combat certainly takes some getting used to. For ages, I was getting obliterated way too much. Now, though, I'm a beast of a ranger and find it a lot more manageable. However, I'm now up to the bit with the possessed Freeborn Blades and the two's an absolute NIGHTMARE.

    Good job for your first review! toast
    Posted by Marc Pilkington on 16 May 14 at 11:26
    OfficerBarbradyFor a game that doesn't seem to be designed for stealth, I really wish they would have at least made the health regen a bit faster if they're gonna have enemies do that much damage. Most boss battles so far have been like 50% fighting 50% running around waiting for health to regenerate. If you don't have like 10 health potions on you at all times, you're gonna find yourself doing a lot of standing around and waiting.
    Posted by OfficerBarbrady on 19 May 14 at 02:04
    LizardKingv666Your Review is well done! Actually this is a review how it's meant to be. I really liked the game for its atmosphere and that Non-AAA-Feeling. Combat and health regeneration should have been better but it's doable on the lowest difficulty. The sad thing is that I won't even try to do the other difficulties.

    I hope to read more Reviews from you in the future!
    Posted by LizardKingv666 on 21 May 14 at 12:02
    RougeRogue1Excellent review, you accomplished exactly what a review should accomplish: Help the reader decide whether or not to buy the game (as much as I love a good RPG, I think I'll pass on this one). I appreciated the link to the soundtrack example, as well!
    Posted by RougeRogue1 on 17 Jul 14 at 00:13
    Good review. The only thing I think you missed, or should have emphasised more, is the length of the game. Its REALLY short. In my first play though on normal, I did every side quest, talked to everyone about everything possible and was done in under 20 hours. Poor show for a RPG.
    Posted on 19 Jul 14 at 06:35
    DIMEBOYNice work! You addressed all the issues that I had in the game so that prospective players will know better what they are up against. The slow magic abilities are constantly interrupted and can get you killed repeatedly on Captain difficulty.
    Posted by DIMEBOY on 01 Aug 14 at 16:40
    Good review, but you have in fact convinced not to get this game. Just not my type of RPG at all I'm afraid. Thanks.
    Posted on 30 Nov 14 at 13:35
    Vr EnglishEnjoyed the review, appreciate your time on writing it, I think I would consider it if it were available very cheap.
    Posted by Vr English on 16 Sep 16 at 07:57